The story wis screivit in stane. A lively Scotland wid be crushed by a ferocious Ireland. Superstar full-back Stuart Hogg micht weel gang the length o the pitch an score glorious consolation tries, but it wouldnae gie us the win. The younger, safter boys in blue wid be claucht in the knuckles o Ireland’s scrum an smothert. We’d hae aa the licht, but no eneuch heat tae burn.
Murrayfield opened its muckle metal mou an roared. Owre saxty thoosan Scots voices chauntit “Flower o Scotland”. The lift owreheid soared up tae a bricht springtime, saltire blue. Ye couldnae haud doon that fey feelin, that thocht that, whiles we maun aye dae or dee, the day we might actually dae.
But the furst feev meenites pleyed oot as predictit. The scrum saw the Scots get pickit up like a ragdoll in the jaws o a fierce Irish dug and shoogelt till the stuffin cam oot. Thae early scrums were a dishertenin experience. But when the Scots gied the baw some air in open pley, they were makkin guid grun. The twa Gray brithirs Jonny an Richie were a glorious sicht. Baith o them are seiven-fuit tall Titans, an baith tane turns tae batter doon the doors o the Irish defence. The brithirs warkit up the field, Russel bunged ae lang pass oot the back o the ruck an Stuart Hogg was in fir the Scots furst try!
Then the fire-flaucht moment. It was the man o the hour Hogg again that breenged an boundit his wey through ane o the best defences in the gemme tae score a secund try! Murrayfield threw its heid back an roared anew. The emerald-shirted Irish mibbie hud aa the baw – 67% possession – but they couldnae dunt the blue wa that the Scots biggit wi their ain flesh an bane. The score wis 14-0.
Aye, Ireland goat a try thirsels, but as hauf-time approached it wis Scots wi the kists puffed oot an the braid shooders back. The Irish heched an peched an wabbelt like a battered boxer preyin fir the bell.
Ae gullus move saw oor centre Alec Dunbar hing aboot unheedit in the thrang o forwards, tak a quick baw fae a line-oot an sprint owre the line wioot an Irish haun oan him. Three tries tae Scotland in ae hauf o rugby!
As Romain Poite the French ref blew fir hauf-time Scotland hud a hard-tae-credit 21-8 lead.
The Murrayfield crood daured tae dream. Pints doused thrapples made drouthy by fowerty minutes o yowlin. Airms linkit an blue-paintit pusses sang o high roads an low roads. Doon in the hert o Murrayfield twa New Zealand coaches, Vern Cotter fir the Scots an Joe Schmidt fir the Irish, gied twa gey different team talks.
The saicont hauf strertit wi a shock. The Irish cam oot the tunnel like they’d been fired fae a cannon. They hud aa the force o chairgin bullocks, an the aince resolute Scots defenders were bein pit doon oan their dowps aa owre the pitch. The pynts-gap that Scotland hud gaithert sae carefully noo withert an fell like autumn leaves, as the hopes o summer fade tae winter’s barren truth. The Irish played us aff the pairk.
The better team scored twa tries wi nae answer fae the Scots.
We aa kent the score lang afore the final whistle. The Scots hud brunt aa their paper oan the ingle early doors. Aa bricht licht an nae heat. The Irish knuckles o the green scrum had tane a grip o the bairnie-blue Scots an wis smoorin them.
The Irish cuttit through fir anithir score.The gemme wis up. The saltires were at hauf mast, the celtic cousins were pittin us tae the sword aince mair. The scunner tae end aa scunners.
But Greig Laidlaw, oor fuzzy-pussit captain fae the Scottish Borders wasnae haein it. He rallied the troops wi baith word an deed. Ye could see him growlin at his forwards, demandin mair fae his key men. It wis aff the laces o his ain buit (may they aye be blessit) that the vital sax final pynts were kicked. Murrayfield roared wi sic a force that abdy in the Lothians maun hae kent the result. Scotland had retane the lead. An twa-three ticks o the clock later, Scotland hud tane the win.
An whit a gemme tae win! The Scots haed wrocht a coffin fir the hail Irish team an spent the furst hauf hammerin in the nails. Just afore the last ane was dinged intae place, a revivified Irish pack had smashed their wey oot, an were lookin set tae demolish us. Scots een keeked oot through fleggit fingers. But at the deith, oor wee Captain Fantastic blootered us tae victory wi his trusty buit. This ane gangs stracht intae the buik o Sax Nations Classics.
The camera picked oot ae aulder mannie at the enn o the gemme. He wis a grey-heidit chiel, aa in sombre black duds. At the final whistle, this staid auld character was greetin like a bairn. Joyous.
Gin this is tae be a year whaur Scotland dae summit special in the Sax Nations we cannae yet ken. But jings o michty me, we’re aff tae some stert.
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